This Saturday, CIRCA Pintig is having it’s Monthly Beat, featuring the works of Louie Pascasio in his play series TRANSITIONS, which will explore gender and sexual identity in the Filipino culture. We sat down with the playwright/director to share his thoughts on his piece:
CP: What inspired you to write a series of plays that focus on gender and sexuality? L: As a gay man, I have always been immersed in the discourse of gender and sexuality and although it may not be reflected, as intensely as it should, in my work as a theater artist, questions about these issues have always hovered in my consciousness. Engagement with these issues is a necessity if not imperative. Something in these issues grab me emotionally, psychologically and intellectually and these levels of engagement are usually drawn by how inequality, self-doubt and internalized discrimination have been institutionalized in society. Tolerance and acceptance are one thing. Equality is quite another. That’s why I think the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage is crucial because it brings gay identity discourse beyond the realm of tolerance and acceptance but elevates it within the level of politically and culturally institutionalized social practice that regulates relations of power and equal opportunities. I think drama plays a big role in this arena especially if we have to consider where our own community is coming from. CP: How is
gender and sexuality seen in the Filipino culture? Is it open, or oppressive, or do you think it is open to change and evolve? L: I think the Filipino culture comes a place of many dualities given our history, and gender is one of them. For a very religious and catholic culture, we are actually pretty accepting and open at least from what I’ve seen. At the same time, it is that religious fervor that also hinders the culture’s full acceptance of gayness both in terms of lifestyle and as a subject of social discourse. It is very unfortunate that it takes to have a Vice Ganda for the culture to be more accepting of gayness, a kind of acceptance that is grounded on the ‘gay’ as a source of laughter and ridicule. I am not questioning Vice Ganda for who he is and maybe his popularity has some positive impact in expanding the culture’s view of gayness. But his being gay becoming a tool of escapist pleasure that rakes in millions of pesos does not help advance the counter-critical discourse either. If the proliferation of independent gay-themed movies (mostly gay male oriented) in Manila and the recent popularity of My Husband’s Lover on Philippine prime time TV are any indication of
evolution, then I think it is evolving. The fact that Filipinos are now comfortable watching gay characters who are straight-acting getting romantically involved, maybe is quite a change. CP: How important is it for the FIlipino culture to explore conversations on gender and sexuality? L: I think it is very important and very much so for any culture. Gender and sexuality are basic human facets that should be talked about in whatever form and space people are comfortable with. Unfortunately, religion and patriarchy got in the way. It is very problematic though in most Filipino conversations especially
if people allow the question of morality to enter the realm of discussion. And this is because, more often than not, Filipinos’ standard of morality is attached to religion. But not all religious Filipinos are close-minded. That precisely because of these religious sanctions that prevent Filipinos from becoming more open and critical about gender and sexuality issues, that we should continue pursuing the dialogue. I think the hesitation to engage in these conversations especially in family settings are due to generational differences. But times are changing and so are the modes of social interaction and creative expression. And precisely because of the internalized and institutionalized biases about gender and sexuality that we need to engage more Filipinos in taking part in such conversations maybe not during dinner table discussions but in public arenas like theater.Join us for a night of innovative and inspiring Filipino community art! CIRCA Pintig’s Monthly Beat Saturday, June 27th, 7:30 PM at mooh dulce (2602 W. Fullerton) It’s free and open for the public!